Increasingly, people are working remotely. Whether you telecommute, have a home business, or work for a company that offers the option of remote work, you are much more likely to work from home now than since the time before the Industrial Revolution. In fact, depending on your definition, as much as 30% of the U.S. workforce can be said to work from home.
Working from home can provide flexibility, increased productivity, and — according to some studies — greater happiness. But it can also have health consequences.
- People who work from home often work longer hours that those who close an office door at the end of the day. They may also spend more time sitting and more time staring at computer screens. In the workplace, there may be breaks in the day when it’s natural to stand up and move around or at least to refocus your eyes on the colleague who stopped by to chat. When you work from home, you have to build in times for stretching, walking, and stopping. Alarms on your computer or smart phone can help. You can also work to develop a habit of talking a mid-morning yoga break or make after-work dates to play soccer or go swimming.
- When you work from home, you’re right by the kitchen. When you need a break, it’s easy to mosey into that kitchen and grab a snack or a beer. Many remote workers find that they gain weight or drink more. Planning can help. Prepare snacks of fruits, nuts, and veggies and plan a healthy lunch so that it’s easier to eat right than to live on snack cakes and pizza delivery. Decide what you want to eat and drink and keep just those things in the house.
- Many people who work from home work at computers, and the blue light from your computer screen can get in the way of sleeping. If you like to work late at night but your employer expects you to be available from 9:00 to 5:00, you could end up with too little sleep. Add even more blue light from video games, TV, and lighted e-readers during your down time, and you might suffer from poor quality sleep. If that sounds like you, give yourself a bedtime and set an alarm for an hour before that time. Shut down everything with a lighted screen. Paper books, stretching, or doing household tasks can help you get ready for sleep.
Then enjoy the benefits of less stress and more control over your environment. Remote working, done right, can actually be good for your health.